Media Discourse on Deobandi Terrorism: 31 Jan – 05 Feb 2015


Long live the king

Marvi Sirmed

The Nation

According to the revelations made by Wikileaks in 2010, a cable dated November 13, 2008 originated from the American Consulate in Lahore, went straight to the Secretary of the State saying, “..a sophisticated jihadi recruitment network had been developed in the Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions”. The cable further reads that a network of Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadees organizations was being strengthened under the garb of charities, and that such organizations included Jaish-e-Mohammad, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Al-Khidmat Foundation etc. This Islamic charity originally reached Pakistani pseudo-religious organizations as relief for earthquake victims in Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (then North West Frontier Province).

The same cable reveals that a portion of these funds was siphoned to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in southern and western Punjab in order to expand these sects. The initial success of establishing madrassas and mosques in these areas led to subsequent annual “donations” to these same clerics, originating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The value of such donations was uncertain, although the cable claimed that it was in the region of $100 million annually.


Letters: Now for the next round of Islamist revenge

3 February 2015

The Independent

The likelihood is that for a majority of imams, the two are, in fact, irreconcilable – this would certainly be the case for Saudi-funded mosques and those inspired by Deobandism, with its roots in South Asia.


Pakistan & The West: Will Citizens Rein in Governments ?

Jagdish N. Singh

The Jewish Press

The fanatic ideology of hatred and violence against humanity is shared in common by radical Islamists of all hues — Wahabbism—Deoband seminary, Tablighi Jamaat, Ahle Hadith and the Jamaat-e-Islami. The  Punjabi Taliban is deeply linked to major terror attacks, including on  Shias, Ahmadis and Christians, in Pakistan. But Islamabad’s current war on terror is directed only against a select group of militant Islamists—the Haqqani Network and safe havens of al-Qaida and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.


Shia killing and Pakistan demonic dogma

Ismail Salami

Press TV

Feb 2, 2015

Under Mohammad Zia-ul-Ha, the ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were immeasurably expanded. A dictator who had usurped power through staging a coup and overthrowing Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977 with the support of CIA, Zia-ul-Haq, an affiliate of the Deobandi School, was financed by Riyadh to help spread Wahhabism in the country. During his long tenure, he visited Saudi Arabia 27 times. To promote Wahhabism, the Saudis funded new mosques and seminaries and employed Pakistani labor in Arab countries in the country.


Mourners Bury Their Dead After Pakistan Mosque Bombing

Syed Shoaib Hasan And Qasim Nauman
Feb. 1, 2015
Wall Street Journal

Sindh province has traditionally been a haven of the moderate Sufi form of Islam, with practices based around traditional music and dance and worship at shrines. Such practices are regarded as heretical by hard-line members of the Deobandi and Wahhabist schools of Islamic thought. Like the Islamic State in the Middle East, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has an anti-Shiite agenda.


 Terrorist carnage

February 01, 2015

Daily Times

The Shikarpur tragedy could be seen as the expected riposte by the terrorists to the military operations underway in FATA. However, what distinguishes it are three aspects. One, since the anti-terrorism plan, flawed and inadequate as it may be, has taken steps to secure as far as possible the big cities, with the Karachi operation yielding dividends in terms of relative control and evoking praise from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while visiting the city, it is the smaller cities and towns that await similar security arrangements, protocols and standard operating procedures, especially since this attack indicates the terrorists may be shifting their attention to such areas. Second, like in Rawalpindi, the attack on a Shia imambargah kills two birds with one stone: slaking the sectarian bloodlust of the terrorist madmen and creating the fear and trepidation any terrorist attack is intended to provoke. Third, the attack in the interior of Sindh strikes a direct blow at the traditional tolerant Sufi culture of the province. This culture has been under pressure for years from the incremental radicalisation of interior Sindh through the spread of madrassas (especially Deobandi), desecration of Hindu temples and forced conversion of Hindu girls who are then married off to their torturers. Unfortunately, like so much else that is wrong with our (non-) response to the exponential growth of extremism and terrorism, not so benign neglect has been the order of the day for long. By now, the chickens of these negative trends have come home to roost.


 To deny is to invite madness

Ali Arqam

The Nation

January 31, 2015

The Deobandi school, with a history of joining hands with nationalist causes, has had its influence there since the colonial era. Consistent with the cultural importance of Sufi clans, the Deobandi school too built its influence on similar lines with many of the Khanqah associated with the Deoband being centers for its political movements and reform activities. With the reformist agenda and political activities centered on the increasing role of religious clerics, they came at odds with traditional pirs and their following. They challenged the religious foundation of this whole phenomenon, and got closer to those resisting the Sufi clans on the political front.

While working at the public level, the Deoband school too adopted some of the leftist slogans of economic deprivation and land possessions. A string of literature was produced backing these slogans with religious texts.

The Deoband school, and their political representation today, has adopted some of these nationalist causes for small pockets of votes in different constituencies as they have to contest elections against mainstream political parties blamed for less consideration to nationalists’ issues.


 Pakistan: Between Civility and Fanaticism

Salim Mansur

Gatestone Institute

January 31, 2015

The Taliban were raised, on both sides of the border, in the Deobandi school of fundamentalist Islam, different in tradition from what the “Afghan Arabs” brought with them to Pakistan.

The Deobandi school, originating out of the nineteenth century Darul Ulum Deoband – an Islamic school that took its name from the town, Deoband, located in north India where it was founded circa 1867 – has been, since it was established, the flag-bearer of jihadi movements in India and Central Asia.

The religious scholars at Deoband, were practitioners of taqlid (imitation): of strictly adhering to the authoritative interpretations of the traditional four schools of fiqh (jurisprudence) in Sunni Islam. They insisted that Muslims follow the Shariah-code as required by their faith and tradition.

After the swift defeat of the Taliban by American forces in Afghanistan in 2001, the “Afghan Arabs” of the al-Qaeda network were on the run in search of sanctuary. Many of them, including Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, found safe haven in the Pathan tribal areas of Waziristan within Pakistan, and dug in there for the long struggle of the global jihad. They indoctrinated the Taliban and other elements of the Pakistani jihadi militias based in Punjab with their highly polarized doctrine of takfir theology, culled from the writings of Ibn Taymiyya. (Among the most well known militias besides the Pakistani Taliban are the fiercely anti-Shia and Deobandi trained jihadists of Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi; the Jaish-e-Mohammad operatives in Kashmir; and jihadists of Laskar-e-Taiba, funded by the ISI, and accused of plotting the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi, and of carrying out the 2008 attack in Mumbai.)

In contrast, there are nearly 14,000 madrasas (religious seminaries) where, under the supervision of Deobandi scholars, a Quran-based education of rote learning and memorization, ill-equipped for modern needs, is provided to an estimated two million children of the poor. It is from these madrasas that the jihadi fighters come forth as cannon fodder for an endless jihad that has become a growth industry in Pakistan. The entire political elite in Pakistan has profited, just as the entire Saudi elite has profited by funding the Islamists, and just as the entire Iranian elite continues to profit by doing the same.